New Federal, State, and Local Action to Support Energy Efficient Buildings, Create Jobs, and Lower Costs
Today, President Biden announced during his remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that his Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. With nearly 20% of the nation’s building footprint in their jurisdictions, the partnership facilitates new commitments to design and implement building performance standards at the state and local level, create good-paying, union jobs, lower energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution, and cut emissions from the building sector. Today’s announcement builds upon the Department of Energy’s efforts to upgrade one million homes, and makes progress toward President Biden’s goal to retrofit four million buildings and two million homes during his first term.
New federal actions today, in tandem with close state and local coordination, will accelerate progress towards reducing buildings emissions at all levels of government, including states, territories, Tribal nations, and local jurisdictions. Federal investments and technical assistance builds capacity, expertise, and infrastructure to advance climate action and environmental justice aligned with local or state-levels needs and opportunities.
When building performance standards are designed in partnership with frontline communities and key stakeholders, innovative and equitable solutions can address multiple needs in a community. Energy efficiency improvements and electrification in multifamily buildings improve indoor air quality, eliminate drafts, and protect residents from extreme heat– delivering health benefits and lower health care costs. For businesses, high-performing buildings are not only good for the world, they are good for the bottom line – attracting higher occupancy rates and generating more revenue.
Today’s actions build on the $3.5 billion investment for home weatherization in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – which will make 700,000 homes more energy efficient and lower consumers’ electricity bills – and will make $1.8 billion available to state and local governments through the Department of Energy to expand building retrofits and policy implementation at the state and local level. And President Biden will continue to work with Congress to extend even more benefits to the American people under the Build Back Better Act.
Today’s actions include:
- A New Buildings Performance Standards Coalition: This innovative partnership forms a coalition of state and local governments that represent over 22 percent of the American population. Supported by labor unions, philanthropy and non-governmental organizations, the Coalition has come together to scale programs and policies that reduce emissions across the buildings sector in local jurisdictions. This first-of-its-kind partnership will unlock energy efficiency and electrification across the buildings sector as an engine for job creation all while lowering energy bills for consumers.
- Mobilizing Federal Assistance: The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a series of actions to kickstart building performance standards and policy innovation across the country. Deploying a range of resources, the agencies will help jurisdictions with analysis support, policy design, and implementation tools.
PROPELLING POLICY INNOVATION ACROSS AMERICA’S STATES AND CITIES
The inaugural Building Performance Standards Coalition, which represents more than 15 billion square feet of applicable floor space, has come together to scale programs and policies that reduce emissions across the America’s buildings sector.
- Advancing State and Local Building Performance Standards. Today, 33 state and local governments announced their participation in the National Building Performance Standards Coalition, founded on a commitment to work with stakeholders, especially frontline communities, to address health, energy affordability, and emissions reductions goals across the buildings sector. This participation includes developing policy roadmaps, convening place-based teams to co-create policy, identifying and acting on pre-requisites for building performance standards and complementary policies, and sharing results and experiences to forge a community of practice – with the ultimate goal of advancing legislation or regulation in each of the represented jurisdictions by Earth Day 2024. Coalition members include:
- State of Colorado
- State of Washington
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Annapolis, MD
- Aspen, CO
- Atlanta, GA
- Boston, MA
- Cambridge, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Chula Vista, CA
- Columbus, OH
- Denver, CO
- Evanston, IL
- Fort Collins, CO
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Ithaca, NY
- Kansas City, MO
- Los Angeles, CA
- Milwaukee, WI
- Montgomery County, MD
- New York, NY
- Orlando, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Portland, OR
- Prince George’s County, MD
- Reno, NV
- Sacramento, CA
- Saint Louis, MO
- San Francisco, CA
- Savannah, GA
- Seattle, WA
- Washington, DC
- Proactively Partnering with the Workforce. Expanding our nation’s skilled workforce will be required to achieve the collective retrofit goals of Coalition members and the President. Members of the nation’s building trades and unions have stepped up to proactively partner with member cities and states to train a local workforce to get the job done. They have pledged to work with Coalition members as they implement new building performance standards and policies, recognizing that these policies stimulate economic growth and good-paying union jobs. Efficiency workers earn 28% above the national median wage, and union workers have higher median earnings than non-union members.
In May of 2021 the Administration announced a set of new programs to grow and train the buildings sector workforce and to increase retrofit uptake through a building performance standard for the federal building portfolio. Since then the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has granted over $25 million to workforce development and job creation leaders to expand the pipeline of high-skill buildings workers, and the EPA has published a white paper to inform the development of building performance standards and disseminated it across the buildings industry. In addition, the Administration has charged an interagency team of subject matter experts to develop the federal building performance standard policy.
Prioritizing equity expertise and stakeholder engagement. National leaders in equity and environmental justice, community engagement, and building efficiency policy and program design have stepped up to provide policy and equity strategy assistance to Coalition members. With support from philanthropic organizations, local governments will ground their climate work in equity and justice through community-driven processes. And nonprofit organizations will offer expertise in building decarbonization, including localized policy approaches and stakeholder engagement.
MOBILIZING FEDERAL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR BUILDING PERFORMANCE POLICY AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVELS
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced expanded technical assistance opportunities that can be accessed by Building Performance Standards Coalition members to design, measure, and manage local buildings performance policies:
- Activating Technical Assistance. DOE’s Building Technology Office will support analyses of existing building stocks and will work with local governments to set emissions reductions goals with the assistance of better data collection tools. Additionally, DOE will share best practices for state and local governments that are adopting building performance standards, including public and private sector financing options, and will also provide analytical support to examine how policies targeting emissions reductions in existing buildings can pave the way for minimum new construction building energy codes.
- Enhancing Support from EPA Climate Protection Partnerships Division. EPA will support policy development and implementation, including through analysis and recommendations of metrics and best practice toolkits. EPA will provide insight into current building energy use data as the foundation for jurisdiction-specific analysis and target setting, and will enhance ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® to provide new policy tracking and reporting capability, and will assist jurisdictions in using it. EPA will also provide new tools that calculate localized greenhouse gas emissions to inform reporting, compliance, and assessment.
These actions follow a year of interagency collaboration to jumpstart building performance policy at the state and local level. In 2021, the Administration:
- Passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides more than $1.8 billion to support building sector policies, including $500 million for DOE’s State Energy Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal governments to advance state-led energy initiatives; $550 million for DOE’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program to assist eligible governments to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation policy and projects in their jurisdiction; $250 million for grants to capitalize state-level revolving loan funds for energy efficiency; and $500 million for competitive grants to fund efficiency and renewable improvements in public school facilities.
- Embedding equity expertise into federal assistance. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab released a Request for Proposals for expertise in energy justice and in building performance standards to advance energy codes. Awards are expected in spring 2022 and will provide important federal capacity to support equity as a central tenet of building decarbonization policy.